|DIVE FLAG-- A LITTLE HISTORY|
Posted by baja haha on June 05, 2010 at 05:36:52:|
DIVE FLAG-- One man's involvement
There is bogus version of its history presented by "Fat Boy scuba" ( Fat Boy?he is certainly was not and LA County U/W Instructor!! .)
The recognized and acclaimed father of the dive flag was Ted Nixon from the inland water of Michigan who passed away several years ago. At that time a pretender came out of the wood work and claimed recognition as the "father of the dive flag"...However there is no mention of the pretender's name in any dive flag documentation in my file which is approximately 2 feet tall, or in any litigation which has involved the dive flag.
The original "recommended" official size was four units high, five units wide and a one unit wide diagonal stripe. The original and long forgotten color was international ( Neon or blaze) orange but after a very short time the manufacture's settled on red with a white diagonal stripe. Now it is rather common to see all sorts of variations of the background colors, size proportions and especially the size of the stripe.
I was involved in the flags development and acceptance both locally, nationally and internationally in the late 1950s via Skin Diver Magazine and conducted considerable correspondence with concerned divers through out the US.
In early 1960 a diver was struck by a boat at Long point, Catalina Island while resting on his float which displayed the then very new dive flag. (You can read the 2 part 6 page article in a early edition of the old LA County Underwater News)This was the very first accident of a diver flying a diver's flag.
In 1962 I was summoned as an "expert witness" for the prosecution. It was an awesome responsibility since the dive flag was only a few years old and never been tested in a court of law and I alone had to defend it.
We prevailed -- Under then existing maritime law, which responsibility is established by percentages, the victim Mr. Toso was declared 5% negligent for being in the water and the boat operator, Mr Burns was 95% neglect for not recognizing a diver displaying the "flag" and running over and seriously injuring him. The judge awarded Mr. Toso $132,000.00 in damages - a huge sum in the early 1960s.
This one litigation in a court of law was the defining case establishing the rights and privileges of a diver flying the then almost unknown red and white flag; as recognized the symbol of recreational diving.
Since that initial appearance I have been in evolved in a number of other litigations and consultations regarding the divers flag, some of the more significant and interesting evolvements were as follows.
In the 1960s "Sea Craft" of 3 A Church Street, Wilmington, Massachusetts was marketing after market items and almost as an after thought on the back cover a selection of "Divers Jewelry." Among the items they offered was the very first "Back Plate." Bob Rutherford the founder of the Aquatic Center in Newport beach, California attached the back plate to the US Divers 44 CuFt SCUBA cylinders to create the distinctive Orange County twin 44s." ( see; Legends of diving "The Sea Sabres signaling system" @www.portagequarry.com.")
After a few short years Sea Craft was acquired by the then giant and very aggressive New England Divers, of Beverly Massachusetts. They expand the line including giving the jewelry portion more prominence in the catalog. Soon the jewelry section comprised a major part of the catalog.
As with all things there is a begin middle and end. New England divers had expanded to much too fast almost faced bankruptcy. They sold or closed most their shops located throughout the US (one was in LA and One in OC) In the process they sold the accessory line to one company and the divers jewelry line to a New York City firm
There are some who have an abundance of testosterone and a lack of grey matter who proclaim that they would point or even fire their spear guns at a boat that came, in their estimation, to close for comfort. At that time when they point or fire the gun they would be guilty of a crime of "assault with a deadly weapon." There was a case in the then bucolic community of Goat Hill, now the up scale city of Costa Mesa in which two less that desirable citizens began drinking and as the night wore on began arguing. One picked up a spear gun and shot the victim who was taken to the local Hoag hospital in Newport Beach and patched up. They returned to their trailer on Goat Hill and continued drinking - and arguing. A few hours later the victim lay dead with an Arbalete spear shaft in bedded in his body.
In the trial the defense was that a spear gun was a toy and certainly not a dangerous weapon. The prosecution claimed it was a very dangerous weapon and should be used with caution and only in the water. Bob Ruetherford, (see Legends of Diving) who was Mr. Orange County diver and my neighbor was summoned as an expert witness. He and I and others discussed and experimented as to how to best demonstrate the power of a spear gun and that a spear gun was indeed a dangerous weapon and not a toy. We set up a chair on which was placed a series of pine boards, the Arbalete was loaded fired which split several of the boards in bedding the point deep into the last board.
This was duplicated in a court of law at which time the spear gun was identified as a dangerous weapon. The perpetrator was found guilty and sent off to spend the rest of his life behind bars.
I am aware that there has been three local divers, possibly more, who were hit by a boat, Daryl Toso, who sustained injuries to his arm and upper torso, Bob Ruetherford, who's leg was severely was injured and the famed competitive spear fisherman Bob Manaki, (A LB Neptune as well as his son)whose injuries prohibited him from participating as member of the LB Neptunes team representing the US in the world spear fishing competition. It is interesting to note all were participating in Spear fishing at the time of their accidents.
( I know the answer-- NO! will you? the answer is also NO! Will you complain YES! )
About 1965 I wrote the description of the divers flag for the US Coast Guard auxiliary which was also incorporated into "Chapmans." I must have been too verbose since my submission was reduced appreciably to any resemblance to what I wrote and what was published in these documents is purely coincidental.
In the mid 1960s I was honored by Skin Diver magazine as their very first "Guest Editor." The title of my work was "Signpost to safety-- the divers flag." In the article I urged all divers to proudly display the new symbol of our sport, the divers flag; on the bumpers of their automobiles, at their work place; on club jackets and if dressed formally in their lapels... and they did! There was an almost immediate response to my call, for Dive flags seemed to sprout up like weeds, now it seems they are as rare as weeds in Martha Stewart's garden
I would also suggest-- urge -- that you publicize the divers by proudly display the flag on your vehicles, on you boats and on your floats.. Displaying a red and white divers flag is no assurance that you will not have an accident and sufferer the pain and its debilitating effects but if you do have and accident you certainly have recourse as established in a Long Beach California court of law fifty years ago by the Toso vs Burns litigation.
That is all I have to say.. Read & heed..
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